US likely to close Palestinian mission in Washington: Report


International | Written by : IANS| Updated: Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 11:40 AM


US likely to close Palestinian mission in Washington: Report

Washington, Sep 10  The Trump administration will announce on Monday that it is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s office in Washington, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The report stated on Sunday that Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton will announce the decision in a speech, saying that "the Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

The Palestinians say that the Trump administration is biased against them and that the latter has fully adopted Israel's positions. Palestinians say that they will only negotiate under the mediation of a broader international forum.

The report stated that Bolton will threaten to take actions against the International Criminal Court if it moves ahead with investigations focused on Israel's actions in Gaza. 

The US official will also threaten to ban ICC judges from entering the US and to sanction their funds in American financial institutions, if the court acts against Washington.

In 2017, the Trump administration threatened to shut down the PLO office, stating that American law requires to have meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in order to allow the delegation to continue its operations. 

Back then, however, negotiations between the US and the Palestinian Authority were still ongoing, so the administration managed to postpone any decision on the matter.

Ever since December 2017, when Trump announced that he will move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel's capital, the Palestinians have stopped communicating with the Trump administration. They have said that the administration cannot be accepted as an "honest broker" because of its bias towards Israel.

The US media reported on Saturday that the Trump administration "will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere".

In response, the Palestinian side denounced the move as "an act of political blackmail", saying it would cause "serious instability and grave harm" to thousands of patients and their families across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The upcoming US decision will be the latest in a trove of US funding cuts against the Palestinians.